MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Approximately 20 Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion participated in a three-week Sapper leader’s course from Jan. 18 through Feb. 4, on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“The purpose of the training at this course is to help prepare both current and future leaders to head back and support the [infantry] units, and to make sure engineers and Sappers leaving this course have a full skillset in the engineering and patrolling world,” said Sgt. Eric R. Roberts, an Engineer Training Area 9/10 instructor with the unit.
“Sapper,” a term first used by the French Army in the 17th century, meaning “to entrench” Roberts said the soldiers would dig beneath enemy fire and build tunnels capable of reaching enemy lines.
“A Sapper is an engineer leader,” said Capt. James Cosh, the officer in charge of ETA 9/10. “It doesn’t matter what resources are in front of him or what challenges are ahead, he will be able to get his unit through the obstacle and allow them to accomplish their mission.”
The course is physically and mentally demanding on the students.
“I really hope deep down that first the Marines learned something about themselves, not only from the physical aspect but from the mental aspect. They had to go through a lot of mental stress being out here in these elements, so I hope they learned how to overcome challenges and adapt as a team,” Cosh said.
Though the course is demanding, the training is conducted in a ‘crawl, walk, run,’ approach. “The Sappers show up and go through initial instruction on demolitions. They work in the classroom and do practical application where they put what they learned into work. Then they will actually have to execute it on a mission and work as a team,” Cosh said.
The Marines are expected to bring their increased knowledge and leadership skills back to 2nd CEB and progress the unit’s continuous mission.